Case-Shiller, the housing research operation, reports that home prices continued their horrible collapse in January.
The note said
Data through February 2012, released today by S&P Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed annual declines of 3.9% and 3.8% for the 10- and 20-City Composites, respectively.
Both composites saw price declines of 0.8% in the month of January. Sixteen of 19 MSAs also saw home prices decrease over the month; only Miami, Phoenix and Washington DC home prices went up versus December 2011.
It become more obvious by the month that there is absolutely no solution to the housing problem, which is by far the largest hurdle which the economy faces–more even than the recession in the EU. The number of underwater mortgages remains steady at about 20% of the market. RealtyTrac data shows a brief slowing in foreclosures, but the firm said they will pick up again sharply
Low interest rates on mortgages, some at all time lows, have not brought people back into the market. Too many Americans do not want to buy homes because they believe prices will continue to fall.
Several federal programs to aid home owners have not worked. A new $25 billion settlement with five large banks is supposed to give some homeowners relief but many economists are skeptical that the aid will be broad-ranging enough to help reverse the market drop
The markets which Case-Shiller showed were damaged the most were Chicago down 6.6% year over year. Las Vegas, already so damaged, was down 9%
Douglas A. McIntyre